Reflections on the scene of the crime

  • Article by: NEAL JUSTIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 28, 2011 - 4:12 PM

Veteran crime reporter Caroline Lowe looks back on her 34 years at WCCO-TV.

Caroline Lowe signs off for the last time Friday after 34 years at WCCO-TV, ending what must be one of the longest stints as a Twin Cities crime reporter. Lowe, who is moving to California, reflected on some of the more memorable cases in her storied career:

THE WEEPY-VOICED KILLER

"It started in 1981, my first year in which I was covering crime full-time. That's when I got hooked on it. This guy would kill women and then call the police. You couldn't tell if it was a man or a woman. Finally, a young woman fought back, smashed him in the face with a Coke bottle. He called for help himself and authorities recognized his voice. I interviewed him years later when he was dying. It was my first killer. I learned not to wear red, because all his victims wore red. Serial killers and rapists can look so ordinary. You think they're going to look like the bad guys from 'CSI,' but you never know what you're going to face."

CASSIE HANSEN

"On Nov. 10, 1981, this 6-year-old girl, Cassie, was kidnapped from a church family function. I remember getting called in early in the morning as they searched for the girl. A few hours after I got there, the police started rushing about. You knew something had happened. They found her body in a Dumpster. I knew about the discovery before her parents did. That was my first funeral. Her mom liked me, thought I had been fair. But then I did a story on what the search warrant dug up. She called me and said, 'You're just like all the rest' and hung up on me. I was devastated. I think that story shaped me and reminded me to think of the victims' families at home."

JACOB WETTERLING

"I was home with my newborn when Jacob disappeared, but I did a lot of anniversary stories. I remember when it happened not telling my son, who was 5 or 6 at the time. I thought it might disturb his little world. I found out later that he and his friends were talking about it. I got to know Patty [Jacob's mom] very well. I have so much respect for her. I can't imagine crawling out from under the covers if I lost my child. There's still unfinished business. That's the hardest thing. Leaving the cold cases."

JODI HUISENTRUIT

"Jodi was an anchor at KIMT in Mason City, Iowa, when she disappeared. I remember hearing that she dreamed of one day working at WCCO. I could bring some things to the table on that case because I know what it's like when people think they know you because you're on television. I've never had anyone obsessed with me, but I've gotten some strange letters. For years, I didn't want my children to use my last name. I can take care of myself, but I wanted to protect my kids. I've seen way too many bodies and been to way too many crime scenes. But I don't have nightmares."

REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION

"The scariest time in my career was standing outside Mickey's Diner when the smoke grenades went off. I couldn't see. People say, 'Why didn't you run earlier?' But it's in our blood to stay. A few nights later we were on the [I-94] bridge and it looked like trouble again. There was this reporter from France that was dying to have his smoke-grenade moment. A cop I knew called me the next day and said she was worried that she might have had to use her baton on me. Then she asked if she could get a copy of the video."

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